Tuesday, September 25, 2012


By Bill Hunt, Daily Gleaner, hunt.bill@daily,gleaner.com, September 25, 2012

It was Tuesday on most calendars yesterday.

In Fredericton, it was Dave Durepos Day.

Mayor Brad Woodside read a proclamation from the steps of City Hall on Tuesday officially declaring the day in honour of the five-time Paralympic basketball player and three-time Paralympic gold medallist.

Durepos, 44, was wearing his latest — and last — Paralympic gold, a medal he picked up in London, England, a couple of weeks ago as he and his mates on the Canadian team capped an unbeaten Paralympics with a 64-58 victory over Australia in the gold-medal match.

“I just love bringing stuff like this back home,” he said, as he fingered the gold medal dangling from around his neck.

Durepos became the first New Brunswicker to earn a gold medal in the Olympics or Paralympics when he captained the Canadian team to Paralympic gold in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.

The one he earned in London on Sept. 8 was his third, to go with one silver. “No better way to finish than on top with the gold medal,” said Durepos, who said Frederictonians “were just as much a part of this gold medal as everyone on the team, because you guys have supported me my entire career.”

It’s a career that is coming to a close, at least on the Paralympic stage. “I’m old, man,” he said, explaining his decision to pack it in. “It’s a bittersweet feeling. It means not as much travel with my extended family, which is my basketball crew. But an athlete always knows when it’s time to retire. For me, it’s just time. To go out on top ... what a way to go out.”

Durepos wondered if he could get away without putting money in the parking meter on his day. “You’ve done a tremendous amount at the provincial level, at the local level and encouraging and being a mentor to so many people,” said Woodside. “So giving you a Day and a couple of parking tickets is the least we can do,” he said, chuckling.Woodside was glad to proclaim the day, “to get together to welcome home a hero.”

“Dave Durepos is an exceptional individual who has gone above and beyond for the betterment of himself, his team and his sport,” said Woodside. “He is an inspiration to us both on and off the court.”

“It’s a great honour to be able to come home to this,” said the New Maryland native. “Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, has always been a great supporter of wheelchair basketball.”

It dawned on Durepos that his Paralympic career would end up tinged in gold about three minutes into the fourth quarter of the gold-medal game against the Aussies, the team that dethroned Canada in the 2008 games in Beijing.

“We were just pulling away,” he said. “They seemed to try to do everything and bring everything at us, and it wasn’t working. At that point in time, I got the guys on the bench (together) and there were a bunch of cameras. And I said, ‘When that buzzer goes off, make sure you throw your warmup (jacket) up in the air and we get a good ‘capture the moment.’ ”

There have been many such moments for Durepos over his 18-year career with Team Canada. The former team captain — they won gold on his watch in 2000 — has been called the best three-point shooter in the world in wheelchair basketball. He believes he still is. “That’s my specialty, that’s what I do,” he said.

He demonstrated that one more time in London, ringing up a game-high 18 points in a little more than 16 minutes in a 68-42 win over Colombia in a preliminary game and hitting on four of five three-pointers.

“When the coach came to me, I was there, and I was ready, and it felt fabulous,” he said.

But like everyone else in Paralympic basketball circles, he marvelled at the effort turned in by Canadian teammate Patrick Anderson of Fergus, Ont., who routinely turned in triple-doubles in leading Canada to gold.

“I’m telling you, I’m glad he’s Canadian,” said Durepos, grinning. “Without him, I don’t think we would have been able to win. Not only is he a scoring machine, but he had a triple-double pretty much every single game. He knew how to use his teammates and we knew how to use him.”

Durepos said he “might play one or two more years” for Team Canada in international competition, but he and his wife Sarah, a former Canadian Paralympic athlete in her own right, are turning more to coaching. They’ll be the coaches for New Brunswick at the 2015 Canada Games.


By Kate Wallace, Telegraph-Journal, September 25, 2012

Bruno Bobak’s final work is a good-sized floral oil painting.

His son, Alex Bobak, found it last week in his father’s home studio, in Fredericton, when he went to air out the second-story bedroom of the thick smells of oil paint and turpentine.

“I was really interested to see there was a completed painting on his easel,” he said from Fredericton. “I guess it indicates that right up to the very end he was still quietly going up to that studio for half an hour or an hour or whatever he could muster. He literally worked right until the last day.”

Bronislaw (Bruno) Josephus Bobak died Monday at the Saint John Regional Hospital. He was 88.

Born in Wawelowska, Poland, in 1923, he immigrated to Canada as a boy. His artistic career had auspicious beginnings; his first teacher was Arthur Lismer, at Saturday art classes he took as a teenager in Toronto.The Group of Seven member emphasized interpreting nature, instead of copying it, and using big, bold brushes rather than the formalized, academic way of working.

“That’s really the beginning of that whole program I got involved in,” Bobak told the Telegraph-Journal in 2011. “I was hooked from then on.”

In the seven decades since, Bobak has had a national career that includes hundreds of group shows and dozens of one-man exhibitions, in Canada and abroad. His work is in many public and private collections, including The Canada Council Art Bank, the Canadian War Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada. He has received numerous awards, honours and distinctions, including membership in the Royal Canadian Academy and honorary university degrees.

That’s the resumé. What friends, family and colleagues talk about when they talk about Bruno Bobak is an unpretentious, compulsively creative man with a dry wit who loved nothing more than casting a fly-line on the Miramichi.

Bobak was also half of one of Canada’s most famous husband-and-wife painting couples. In 1944, the year after he joined the army, he won a Canadian Army art competition. Molly Lamb, his future wife, took second place, but it was not until 1945, when she became an official war artist, the year after he had joined the program, that they met.

Forced to share studio space in London, he was initially irked by her presence. On Dec. 10, 1945 they were married.

The Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, has 130 Bruno Bobak paintings and drawings in its permanent collection. “That work shows a commitment to art that probably wouldn’t have come so quickly if it hadn’t been for the war,” said Laura Brandon, historian, art and war, at the museum. “He used to say that being a war artist saved his life,” as most of his platoon died on D-Day.

There were 32 official war artists. Only Molly Bobak and Alex Colville survive.

After the war, the Bobaks returned to Canada, living in a Toronto apartment building owned by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris.

They lived in Ottawa and Vancouver before moving to Fredericton in 1960 when he was appointed artist-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick. In 1962, he became director of the university’ art centre, a position he held until retiring in 1986. The Bobaks promptly became prime movers in the city’s – and the province’s – artistic life.

Brandon said that Bobak, like other war artists, helped create the next generation of Canadian artists, and the recovery of post-war Canadian art in general.

“They were interested in other artists, they were interested in Canadian art, they were interested in future generations,” she said. “I think they valued what they had as a result of what they had been through. It was palpable in the way they conducted their lives and how they contributed on all sorts of different levels to the cultural fabric of their locality, their province and their nation.”

Inge Pataki, Bobak’s Fredericton gallerist since 1976 and a longtime friend, met him the week she arrived in Fredericton from her native Germany. “He really, truly brought something special to the city,” she said.Bobak arrived bearing a basket of vegetables from his garden.

“He was so easygoing. He was so relaxed,” she said.Later, when she learned about the “serious part” of his artistic career, she was awed by his talent.

“We always called him a renaissance man,” she said. “He reminded me of painters in Europe in the early part of the 20th century, artists who were not just painting.”Bobak made pieces of furniture, silk-screened his own neckties, and even built houses.

One time, he covered the ceiling of his dining room in gold foil he collected from Peter Jackson cigarette packages.

He was a great gardener and a skilled cook celebrated for his hospitality. Costume parties were not just for Halloween. “There was a certain standard,” Pataki said. “It was expected that you be creative and come up with something amazing.”

One time Molly Bobak donned a blue swimsuit and a sash, like a contestant in a beauty pageant. Bruno had printed “Miss Fit” on her sash. He once made a dress of see-through plastic for himself, protecting his modesty with a bra and slip.

To Pataki’s daughter, Germaine Pataki, who now runs the gallery, the Bobaks were like grandparents. “He made the craziest Christmas presents,” she said, including toys or artworks decorated with his signature animal, the marmot.

It was Bobak who came up with the name Gallery 78, from the Patakis’ house number on Brunswick Street.

As much as he loved art, he was sustained equally by salmon fishing. Alex Bobak said that catching fish had become secondary, that the natural beauty and contemplative side of angling had become the primary draw for his father. “He indulged it to the nth degree,” he said. “He’d go fishing when there was no chance in hell of catching anything.”

This summer was a bad one for salmon, but Bobak was on the river just the same, driving a 26-foot canoe, refusing, as ever, to don a life jacket. Alex Bobak had bought him a high-tech one as a Christmas gift. It was never used. “I guess I’m going to inherit that in mint condition,” he said.

Bobak is survived by Molly, Alex, his daughter, Anny Scoones, of British Columbia, and Alex’s daughter, Julia.

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery invites the public to stop by to sign a book of condolences and view a selection of Bobak’s works it has put on display. The tribute reflects the vitality, variety, rigour, honesty and splendour of Bobak’s work.

“He wanted to make New Brunswick and Canada a better place,” Bernard Riordon, executive director and CEO of the gallery, said. “And he did that with great style.”


The City of Fredericton and the UNB Varsity Reds announced today that the UNB hockey program will play a two-game series against Team Russia - a team made up of all-stars from the MHL (Russia’s equivalent of the Canadian Hockey League) in the 8th annual Peterbilt New Brunswick Pete Kelly Challenge.  The games will take place December 30th at Harbour Station in Saint John at 3pm and on December 31st at 4pm in the Aitken University Centre.

The two game series will cap off a combination of the 40th anniversary of the most famous hockey series of all time - the 1972 Canada-Russia Hockey Summit - along with the annual Montreal Canadians vs. Russian Red Army games on New Year’s Eve. 

This will be the third annual trip to North American for Team Russia and prior to playing the V-Reds they will play two games against NCAA Providence College Friars and the NCAA RPI Red Hawks prior to making the trek to New Brunswick. It will be UNB’s first international experience against a Russian team although they have had several players play in various international hockey events.

Earlier this month, Roger Shannon, sport tourism manager for the City of Fredericton and long-time general manager for the Varsity Reds hockey team, along with V-Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall travelled to Russia for the 2012 World Junior Club Championship in Omsk, Russia.  While in Russia, they were the guests of Alexander Medvedev – President of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and Dimitry Efimov - the Managing Director of the MHL (Russian Junior Hockey League) and the lead organizer for the Junior Club World Cup. Mr. Efimov will be the co-ordinator for Team Russian along with Scott MacPherson – a former NHL scout and NCAA/ pro hockey coach who now is a consultant with Mr. Medvedev. Other guests at the World Cup included NHL Hall of Famer and hockey legend Phil Esposito, former NHL referee Paul Stewart and Rene Fasel, Director of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Coach MacDougall is excited about the opportunity to play Team Russia. “It could very well be one of the greatest lifetime experiences of their hockey careers for our players and fans – playing Russia on Dec.31 on the anniversary of the 72 series.”

The Varsity Reds men’s hockey program, four time CIS national champions and a perennial national contender, is pleased to add a truly international flavor to the annual Peterbilt New Brunswick Pete Kelly Challenge and hope to have a sell-out crowd for this special commemorative event. 

Tickets are now on sale at both Harbour Station ($17 and $15) and at the Aitken Centre ($15 adults and $10 children 12 and under).